#MGTakesOnThursday

This is my new weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. I hope others will enjoy taking part in this too!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by Kirsty Applebaum
Cover Artwork by Matt Saunders
Published by Nosy Crow

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

Sometimes I wondered if teachers didn’t just make stuff up.

This book in three words:

FRIENDSHIP, FAMILY, TRUST

This is an incredible story which absolutely GRIPPED me from start to finish. It is set in a dystopian society where children are treated differently according to their birth position.

Maggie, a middle child, lives inside the Town boundary with her mother, father, eldest brother Jed and younger brother Trig. Being a Middler means that she struggles to have her voice heard and her talents recognised, but Maggie is determined to be heard and, one day, the perfect opportunity arises …

After a visit to the boundary between the Town and the outside world, she finds herself coming to the attention of a wanderer, Una. Maggie has been brought up to believe that wanderers are ‘dirty, dangerous and deceitful’. Maggie wants to be noticed and, when the opportunity arises, she takes her chance … she decides that she can win recognition by trapping Una and her father and giving them to the town leader.

However, Maggie finds herself developing a tentative friendship with Una, something she has been missing in her life … Can this fledgling friendship overcome the deep-rooted mistrust of the wanderers that has been instilled in Maggie, or will betrayal be inevitable?

I cannot recommend this story highly enough – a must-have for any school library!

You can read more about this gripping story in my review:

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

WWW Wednesday

I’m listening to Howl’s Moving Castle on audio which I reserved through Borrowbox. I’m really enjoying it so far, and just cannot believe I haven’t read it before now. I’m taking part in the #20BooksofSummer20 again this year. I’m just about to start my first book for this challenge, The Princess Who Flew with Dragons. I loved the first two books in the series, and am really looking forward to this one.

I’ve finished reading Dragon Detective: School’s Out this week, and absolutely loved it! I can really see lots of children in my class loving this, and think it would make a great read-aloud story. I’ll post my review at the start of next week. I’ve also finished The Wysman which is a young adult fantasy with plenty of intrigue, and a really engaging plot. It’s being published at the end of June so will post my review in the next couple of weeks. I’ve also read The Ice Garden which is a gorgeous story: heart-breaking and hopeful. Jess, a young girl who is allergic to the sun, finds a magical ice garden and makes a new friend, a friend who is prepared to make a great sacrifice for her. Jess spends a lot of time at the hospital where she meets a young boy in a comma who she reads her stories to. Jess is such a strong and courageous character who, despite her own situation and her understandable anger, proves herself to be a loyal friend. I adored the ending, which pulled the threads of this story together beautifully.

I’m hoping to read another book from my #20BooksofSummer20 next.: A Girl Called Justice: The Smugglers’ Secret. I loved the first book in this series and bought this one as soon as it was published. I’m looking forward to another murder mystery with Justice Jones.

Have you read any of these? What are you reading?

#20BooksofSummer20

It’s that time of year again when I try to reduce my huge TBR! I took part in the 20 Books of Summer for the first time last year, and managed to read 15 books but only review 13 of them! I was ‘hindered’ by a holiday in Florida last year which will not be happening this year, so I’m hoping to be a little more successful. #20BooksOfSummer20 is an annual event hosted by Cathy at 746 Books, and this year runs from Monday 1 June until Tuesday 1 September. I’m very excited to get started on this challenge!

My 20 books are, in no particular order:

It was such fun looking through all the fantastic books on my TBR, and deciding on the 20 for his challenge. Thank you to Cathy for organising it!

MG Takes on Thursday

This is my new weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. I hope others will enjoy taking part in this too!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by Jenni Spangler
Illustrated by Chris Mould
Published by Simon & Schuster

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

Even the lowliest scullery maid was in bed at this hour, but he knew the rotten housekeeper, Mrs Smart, might still be waiting for him so he had to be careful.

This book in three words:

FRIENDSHIP, DARKNESS, MYSTERY

I was absolutely mesmerised by this gripping mystery, brimming with peril, eeriness and spine-tingling darkness, but also with friendship, warmth and hope.  This is a book I will be buying multiple copies of for our library as I know it will appeal to so many children.

I love everything about this story: the Victorian setting with its fascination with mediums; the sinister villain Madame Pinchbeck who is genuinely creepy; the dark magic which traps the children; the fairy tale element; and, the friendship between the three children and their determination to thwart their captor.

This is a story that will take you on an enthralling and sinister adventure, revealing secrets, twists and shocks galore along the way.  I cannot recommend this one highly enough.

You can read more about this wonderful story in my review

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

WWW Wednesday

I’m just about to start reading Dragon Detective School’s Out by Gareth P Jones which I’m hoping will be a fun and humorous mystery!

I’ve read three books this week. Toto The Wizard of Oz as told by the dog is a fun re-telling of this classic story, told from Toto’s viewpoint. Toto is back in Kansas and now has puppies, and he tells his story to these puppies. Reading this gave me a real feeling of nostalgia as, although I haven’t read the original story, I have watched the film with Judy Garland many times. The illustrations by Emma Chichester Clark are gorgeous. I then another story by Michael Morpurgo, Boy Giant Son of Gulliver. This is a classic children’s story which I read many years ago, although I also studied it for my English Literature degree when I discovered it was never meant to be a children’s story. I really enjoyed Boy Giant which tells the story of a boy fleeing war-torn Afghanistan. His father is killed and he is separated from his mother and sister as he flees on a boat to England. The boat sinks, and he wakes up in Lilliput where the inhabitants have known Gulliver and assume he is his son. This is a wonderful story of kindness, acceptance and overcoming barriers to unite people. It has gorgeously heart-warming ending. I also read The Midnight Guardians (via NetGalley) which was a truly magical read set during the Blitz. I adored the three Guardians and their special friendship with Col as they undertake an incredible quest to save Col’s sister whilst fighting against the dark powers of the Midwinter King.

I read The Wind Reader by Dorothy A Winsor last year, and I really enjoyed it, so when the publisher asked if I’d be interesting in this one, I was excited to read it. It is published on 27th June.

What are you reading? Have you read any of these?

Top Ten Tuesday

This is a weekly meme now hosted by That Artsy Girl Reader.  This week’s theme is Opening Lines. I’ve decided to share the opening lines from the last five physical books I bought, and from the last 5 e-books I bought on my Kindle.

Opening lines from last 5 physical books I bought:

A Girl Called Justice: The Smugglers’ Secret by Elly Griffiths

The dark shape of Highbury House was getting closer and closer. Justice told herself that she knew the place now – its turrets and spooky ramparts no longer had the power to scare her.

The Fog Diver by Joel Ross

My name is Chess, and I was born inside a cage. Imagine a wooden platform jutting from a mountain cliff. Now picture a chain falling from the platform and vanishing into the Fog, a deadly white mist that covers the entire Earth.

Where the Wilderness Lives by Jess Butterworth

The day we find the safe is a special day. The canal trust has drained a section of the canal for the first time in twenty years, revealing all sorts of treasure stuck under the water.

Strange Star by Emma Carroll

It was Felix’s job to deliver the invitation. On such a sparkling, sunny morning after weeks of cold rain he was glad to be outside, stretching his legs. Not that he had far to go – Mr and Mrs Shelley’s villa was just a short walk through the apple orchard.

Storm by Nicola Skinner

When you’re born, you’re a baby. That’s something we can all agree on. But you’re not just a baby. No. You’re a story. A beautiful, bouncing, gurgling story. A tale to be treasured.

Opening lines from last 5 e-books I bought:

A Place Called Perfect by Helen Duggan

He waited. Hidden by dusk and the garden bushes against the bark of an oak tree. Watching. The spot gave him full view of the house and gravel driveway. Worrying about being seen felt weird.

The Many Worlds of Albie Bright by Christopher Edge

It was my dad who gave me the idea of using quantum physics to find my mum. She died two weeks ago.

The Last Chance Hotel by Nicki Thornton

In the kitchen of the Last Chance Hotel the loudest sound you were usually likely to hear was the gentle bubble of a lone egg coming to the boil. But today, the air was alive with yells from Henri Mould, the balding head chef, bent double with old age, barking out orders as he hobbled around the kitchen.

Thorn by Intisar Khanani

“Try not to embarrass us,” my brother says. “If you can.” I look out at the empty courtyard and pretend not to notice Lord Daerilin smirking to my left.

The Mysterious Misadventures of Clemency Wrigglesworth by Julia Lee

Clemency Wrigglesworth stood at the foot of the gangway and stared up at the big white ship. England – it was taking her to England. At least she hoped it was, if they would let her on board.

Have you read any of these? Would the opening lines make you pick up the book?

Review: The Middler

This is an absolute marvel of a story which completely and utterly engrossed me: I absolutely could not put it down, and read it in one sitting, as I was so invested in both the characters and the plot.

The Middler is set in a dystopian near-future society where people are treated in different ways based on their familial position. The Eldest in a family hold a privileged position: they are listened to, respected, and get rewarded for their position in the family rather than on merit.  BUT, when they turn fourteen, they are sent off to Camp to train to take part in the Quiet War, fighting to keep society protected.

Maggie, a middle child, lives inside the Town boundary with her mother, father, eldest brother Jed and younger brother Trig. Being a middler means that she struggles to have her voice heard and her talents recognised, and is allocated many of the household chores.

After a visit to the boundary between the Town and the outside world, she finds herself coming to the attention of a wanderer, Una. Maggie has been brought up to believe that wanderers are ‘dirty, dangerous and deceitful’. Maggie wants to be noticed and, when the opportunity arises, she takes her chance … she decides that she can win recognition by trapping Una and her father and giving them to the town leader, Mayor Anderson. However, Maggie finds herself developing a friendship with Una, something she has been missing in her life …

I loved the portrayal of the friendship between Maggie and Una, from its tentative roots to a deeper building of trust. Can this fledgling friendship overcome the deep-rooted mistrust of the wanderers that has been instilled in Maggie, or will betrayal be inevitable?

As Maggie discovers more about the wanderers, she comes to question how her own society is run.  The revelations are perfectly timed as the action becomes more and more intense and the danger increases.  This tension is so brilliantly handled – taking place over 10 days – that I could not stop reading as I had to know what happened next and where the plot was leading me. 

As well as being is a superbly engrossing story, The Middler, raises opportunities for deep discussion around societal issues including misinformation, abuse of power, corruption and personal choice/morality.  I cannot recommend this story highly enough, and will definitely be adding it to my school library.

First Lines Friday

First Lines Fridays is a weekly feature for book lovers hosted by Wandering Words. What if instead of judging a book by its cover, its author or its prestige, we judged it by its opening lines?

  • Pick a book off your shelf (it could be your current read or on your TBR) and open to the first page
  • Copy the first few lines, but don’t give anything else about the book away just yet – you need to hook the reader first
  • Finally… reveal the book!

The stone raven dreamt of flying. She dreamt of rising on currents of warm air and chasing other smaller birds, of swooping into the woods, hungry for a catch. But this pleasant dream was interrupted by a voice. “Help them,” it said, “help them find their way.”

Any ideas?

This is one from my TBR which I bought when it was first published. I’m hoping to get to it soon as it sounds spooky which I love! The cover is gorgeous, and I love the blue foiling on the title.

Book synopsis:

When Hedy and Spencer start seeing cryptic messages appear around their grandfather’s spooky house on Hoarder Hill, their holiday takes a sinister turn. What is their magician grandfather up to? What is he not telling them about the disappearance of their grandmother? With the help of a (talking) stag’s head, an (also talking) bear rug, and other peculiar spirits, the children set out to discover the truth.

MG Takes on Thursday

This is my new weekly meme celebrating amazing middle-grade books. I hope others will enjoy taking part in this too!

How to take part:

  • Post a picture of the front cover of a middle-grade book which you have read and would recommend to others with details of the author, illustrator and publisher.
  • Open the book to page 11 and share your favourite sentence. 
  • Write three words to describe the book.
  • Either share why you would recommend this book, or link to your review.

This week, I’m celebrating …

Written by Stephanie Burgis
Illustrator: Freya Hartas
Published by Bloomsbury

Favourite Sentence from Page 11:

The problem would be the shadow that stretched behind my best friend’s small, fierce, human body … the shadow that grew larger and larger as I watched, spreading across the market stalls and the brick wall behind her, until it loomed over the entire market hall, with its massive tail lashing in anger and its giant jaws opening wide.

This book in three words:

MAGICAL, ADVENTURE, FAMILY

I adored Aventurine’s story in The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart in which she becomes firm friends with the brilliant Silke, whose story I was very keen to know more about so I was very excited to read The Girl with the Dragon Heart which centres on Silke …

This is a truly wonderful story which I read in one sitting, completely captured by Silke and engrossed in the narrative:  filled with excitement, fast-paced action and wonderful characters. 

Silke is an incredibly sympathetic character who has suffered great loss, and has worked hard to make a new life for herself. She is fiercely independent, clever and has a way with words that sees her talk herself out of many tricky situations … but also into a few!  However, the Silke she shows her friends – the bright smile and quick wit – is not her true self as she is hiding deep pain and loss. 

When her past catches up with her in an unexpected way, she finds herself having to make incredibly difficult choices … can Silke strike a bargain with the fairy King and Queen that will save the Kingdom, and herself?

This is a real treat of a story – just like a mug of the best chilli-infused hot chocolate:  heart-warming, rich and completely satisfying – with a kick!

You can read my full review of this superb magical adventure HERE.

I’d love if anyone who wants to give this meme a go would comment in the comments box and include a link to your post so I can visit, comment and find some great middle-grade recommendations. If you do create a post and are on Twitter, and would like to share your post, please use the hashtag  #MGTakesOnThursday so I can find it, read it and share it!

WWW Wednesday

I watched Ross Montgomery being interviewed by Anna James on her brilliant Youtube Channel A Case for Books. He read the first chapter of his new book The Midnight Guardians (due to be released in September) which was fantastic. I was then on Twitter and saw that the publisher has put the book on NetGalley so I requested it immediately. I was so excited to be approved to read it today, so it has jumped to the top of my TBR!

This week I finished reading Umbrella Mouse to the Rescue by Anna Fargher which is due for release in July. I really enjoyed Pip and the members of Noah’s Ark mission to help liberate France. I found this story both poignant and uplifting and really felt for the plight of the animals. It has also really engaged my interest with animals who were used during the Second World War. I will be posting my review (which I’ve actually done!) closer to publication. I listened to the BBC Children’s Classic of The Silver Sword by Ian Serraillier. It is a fantastic adventure set during the Second World War which I really enjoyed. I now know that I haven’t read it when I was younger! I’ve also read a book which I’ve had on my TBR for a while: Snow & Rose which is based on the Grimm’s fairytale, but without the prince! I enjoyed this story of two sisters, Snow & Rose, who lose their father and their lifestyle. They end up going to live in a cottage with their grieving mother, and make incredible discoveries in the forest. They meet a boy who lives in an underground house, a very unusual little man and animals who are not quite what they seem! The writing is both simple and lyrical, and the images are stunning. I’ve also just finished reading The Wild Way Home which I absolutely loved. It follows the story of Charlie whose new-born baby brother is unwell. Charlie, who has been desperate for a new brother or sister, can’t cope and runs off and travels through time to the Stone Age. An incredible, dangerous adventure follows when Charlie meets Harby who is struggling with his own pain. The friendship which develops is wonderful with the children showing great courage and helping each other accept their pain and fear. This truly is a beautiful story which I would highly recommend.

I intend to read Dragon Detective: School’s Out by Gareth P Jones which is being released in early June.